As reports of hate crimes continue to rise in the US and Europe, the international fashion scene protests to end xenophobic attacks targeting the Asian community, particularly the elders.
In the past weeks, fashion brands Nike, Adidas, Converse, and Tommy Hilfiger have shown their solidarity for the cause. Valentino and Oscar de la Renta were among the few luxury labels advocating for #StopAsianHate.
“We support our Asian community and stand together to foster a more inclusive and accepting world,” Valentino posted.
International Filipino fashion blogger Bryan Boy voiced out his concern in combating the heinous attacks.
“Most of these attacks are the result of the anti-Asian rhetoric because of the pandemic,” Bryan Boy said. “A lot of these elders are immigrants. They left their mother countries in search for a better life elsewhere. I grew up in the Philippines with people who looked exactly like me. As a young person, racism was a concept foreign to me.”
According to him, it was the time when he moved to Sweden and the US when he first experienced racism, and notes that it continues to happen.
“To be treated differently, looked down upon, discriminated against, and sometimes insulted because of the color of my skin or the features I was born with, I think it is truly sad,” Bryan continued. “Immigrants like myself were taught to shut up, be strong, just ignore everybody, and really just mind your own business. I think enough is enough. We are all human beings. We all deserve respect.”
In a report by Stop Asian-American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Hate, a coalition that aims to protect the Asian community during the pandemic, states that 2,808 firsthand accounts of Asian hate crimes have been recorded from different areas in the US, from March 19 to Dec. 31, 2020. It is said that these vicious acts stem from the statement made by former US President Donald Trump, calling COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” or “kung flu.”
Many industry personalities—fashion designer Philip Lim, fashion mogul Kimora Lee Simmons, “Crazy Rich Asians” star Gemma Chan, and Allure editor in chief Michelle Lee—have voiced out their concerns and made noise digitally. But what can the fashion industry do to help protect minority groups like the Asian community?
In a powerful post, fashion designer Prabal Gurung looks back on his spring 2020 runway show, presenting a banner question “Who gets to be American?,” and ponders on how fashion plays a pivotal role in making conversations about culture, mainly on identity and politics.
“As an immigrant—born in Singapore, I traveled from Nepal to India, London, Australia—I came to America in pursuit of the American Dream,” he said. “Over the years living here, I have been confronted with the reality of who that Dream serves, how many it leaves behind, and who gets to be American… As we fight for change, we must confront all aspects of our history and take ownership of our past while forging a new legacy. Therefore, the collection was and every day is a celebration of hope, courage, and progress towards a true American Dream that promotes equality and liberation for all.”
“Anti-racism is not a hashtag but a lifelong commitment,” he says in another post. “It starts with dialogues, conversations, education, unlearning and learning with our friends, families, neighbors, peers, coworkers to build a community that shows up and fights injustice for every marginalized group. It starts with holding our own accountable for their silence and apathy.”